Take These Steps If You've Knocked Out a Tooth

4 min read


You don’t have to be an athlete to experience a knocked-out tooth. While playing a contact sport increases your risk of losing a tooth, it can also happen during mishaps such as a fall or biting into hard candy. More than 5 million teeth are knocked out in U.S. children and adults every year. 

With seven locations in southern Florida, SEDA Dental provides convenient emergency dental services when time is critical for the success of dental care. Our team of emergency dentistry specialists provides expert care for urgent conditions like missing teeth to give you the best possible chance of saving your knocked-out tooth and your natural smile.

A knocked-out tooth can affect more than your appearance. Having an open space along your gumline can interfere with normal function and threaten the health of your gums and jawline. Should you have the misfortune of having a tooth knocked out, follow these steps to improve your chances of saving your tooth.

Handle your knocked-out tooth with care 

Should you knock out a tooth, make every effort to find it. Pick up the tooth by the crown (the upper part of your tooth) and avoid touching the tooth roots. The roots contain valuable tooth fibers, called periodontal ligaments, which are important for proper tooth reattachment. If possible, wrap your hand in a handkerchief or other covering before touching the tooth.

Clean the knocked-out tooth according to these precautions: 

  • Rinse the tooth with water to remove dirt, blood, or other debris
  • Don’t use toothpaste or other cleaning products on the tooth
  • Don’t brush or scrub the tooth since this can risk damaging the tooth or the tooth fibers

At all times, remember to use a gentle touch when handling the tooth.

Store your knocked-out tooth appropriately

As you seek out emergency care, set the tooth firmly in the open socket. The moisture from your saliva protects your tooth and prevents root damage. 

Keep the knocked-out tooth in the empty socket by biting down on it or holding it in place with your fingers or a wet cloth. You can also hold it between your cheek and gum. 

If pain or bleeding prevents you from keeping the loose tooth in your mouth, don’t store your tooth in tap water since the chemicals present can damage your tooth.

To properly store your tooth, put it in a small, sealed container of milk. The pH level of milk and its proteins and carbohydrates provide the right antibacterial environment for tooth health. This allows your tooth's root cells to continue growing while being stored. Placing the tooth in a cup of your saliva or an emergency tooth-preserving substance like Save-A-Tooth® also provides protection.

Emergency dental care is helpful even if you can’t find the tooth. A missing tooth may be lodged into your gum, swallowed, or inhaled into your lungs, which can be located with an X-ray.

Visit a SEDA Dental office within 30 minutes

You have a 90% chance of saving your tooth if you get emergency dental care within 30 minutes of having your tooth knocked out. Call the nearest SEDA Dental office to give us details about your injury so we can ensure that you receive the care you need.

If you've handled your knocked-out tooth appropriately, you increase your chances of having your tooth successfully reimplanted back into the empty socket. If your tooth can be saved, the knocked-out tooth is splinted to a neighboring tooth. 

Splinting stabilizes and secures your tooth in place as the root and bone heal. You typically wear the splint for a few weeks, though you may have to wear it longer If the bone around the tooth has been fractured.

Most knocked-out teeth require root canal treatment to remove blood vessels and tissue that were damaged during the incident. While the tooth’s roots can reattach to bone, damaged blood vessels and tissue in the tooth pulp can’t be saved and must be removed.

Treat teeth that can’t be saved

In some cases, it’s not possible to save your tooth because it’s been severely damaged or too much time elapsed between the incident and treatment. Your dentist uses dental X-rays to monitor the health of the knocked-out tooth and determine whether reimplantation is successful.

If your tooth is not salvageable, the cosmetic dentistry specialists at SEDA Dental provide options for replacing the missing tooth to restore natural appearance and full function to your mouth.

Dental implants are one example of artificial tooth replacement that provides a natural-looking alternative to your original teeth. Other options, including porcelain veneersdental bridges, and dentures can also restore your smile.

Taking fast and appropriate action gives you the best chance of saving a knocked-out tooth. If this happens to you, contact any of our offices for rapid, expert dental care to preserve your smile and dental health. 

Schedule your smile consultation at no cost today!

Includes Free X-rays and evaluation